Wine falls into many categories based on very many number of factors. As far as exporting wine to other markets, especially in other countries, some factors will take precedence, obviously. French wine has been imported to US for as long as we can remember the country. French still export a good quantity of wine to the US but many other regions have also emerged. Italy has been especially successful by surpassing French in US import volume and Spain has been increasing the quantity annually. New World countries have been exporting as well because their wines follow little tradition and can be made-to-order to match a specific market. US responds well to products made for its markets. Australia, South Africa, New Zealand and South America have reasonable portions of the US import wine market by following the buyers’ preferences. The outcome is American consumers have an unbalanced selection of imported wines before them. The question remains what can be used as a means to expand the US import niche for a specific country that deserves a bigger market share to balance the available import wine selections and which country.
I am personally not interested in many of the mentioned New World regions because the New World is too flexible in winemaking and volume takes precedence over other factors. New World gets enough of our import market. Italy may be doing well but has always been forcing mediocre wines onto non-local drinkers visiting Italy or living abroad as in US and Italy has too big a share already. Spain deserves attention because the volume of wines produced is large enough to develop some Spanish regions for export. These regions can produce wines of very good quality available at very reasonable prices fitting the US import needs. Italy has lost in affordability and French is now nationwide known as expensive wine limiting the interests of wine drinkers. I think Spain needs more development and because its economy is tied into EU, it will continue to receive much help and will develop its own niche in US market without a doubt. This hopefully will be a benefit to US wine drinkers and not a repeat of Italian experience.
I think the most suitable genre for development is French wine as an import product into US for ordinary consumption. The image of an expensive and high status wine damages French in the US market and frightens the everyday wine drinkers. The logical approach is the selection of a simple French wine that is adaptable for US import market and its promotion in US to expand its share of the niche. This can bring French wine back as an ordinary wine suitable for everyday drinking at reasonable costs. The public will be able to have a more balanced selection for everyday drinking than a group of New World wines versus expensive Italian, French and California. I believe Cotes du Rhone AOC is a good inexpensive red category very suitable for expanding and balancing the everyday wine niche in US.
Cotes du Rhone is one of the major wine producing regions in France. The region was once the best quality region for red wines in France until Bordeaux and Burgundy established better reputations. Winemaking in Cotes du Rhone goes back to Roman times and the high quality of wines has always been a factor in the significance of the region. Rhone is home to many very famous and expensive French wines: Chatauneuf du Pape, St. Joseph, Cote Rotie, Chateau Grillet, Hermitage and many more. The region also produces a good amount of simple wines. Grenache is a high yield grape common in Rhone, Spain and California. A spicy and fruity grape, Grenche, makes for wines that are best blended with other grapes. The high yield of Grenache results in high volumes of wine that make for cheaper wines of acceptable quality.
The general label Cotes du Rhone AOC is a category of mostly red wines that are spicy, medium body and fruity reds. The average price of these wines is far less than most French wines imported into US. A very good Cotes du Rhone costs about $10 in a US retail shop. And that is very good price for the fair quality of the wine versus the many other import options. The Cotes du Rhone quality and taste is consistent and palatable to most wine drinkers. It is said that the majority of what is served at restaurants, as red house wine, in France is Cotes du Rhone red. The large number of producers (6000 plus) and the universal ability of its red to be agreeable to many palates is behind the practice. That should be a good choice because of its availability, quality and price.
The promotion of Cotes du Rhone in the US will attract everyday wine drinkers. These buyers will respond to advertising promotions and accept price as the foremost factor in buying decisions. The aftereffect of the purchase is the experience of the fair quality of the wines. This trial exposes the everyday drinkers to a French alternative for the many cheap imports from New World countries. The expanded consumption of Cotes du Rhone will bring balance to the options for everyday wine drinkers in US. Spanish everyday wines should reach a stage, in the future, to bring more balance to our available options. Cotes du Rhone is ready to bring equality to our dinner table.